Many of your teachers have no doubt told you to work on long-tones and any professional player will tell you that long-tones are one of the best ways to work on your sound and intonation. If you are like me, practicing long-tones with a tuner and a metronome can sometimes be less than exciting, so I have come up with these warmup exercises and play-a-long tracks to help keep my concentration going and make playing long-tones more fun. Please feel free to use them in your own playing.
This is not intended as a substitute to working on these or similar exercises with a tuner and metronome. When playing these, you still need to concentrate to make sure that you are playing with your best sound at all times and listen to the accompaniments for intonation, blend, and accuracy. Be sure to breathe in time and follow the directions at the top of each warm up exercise.
Each warm up play-a-long has been recorded at a variety of tempos from mm = 120 down to mm = 60. Try each longtone exercise at a faster tempo first and then gradually slow them down to the point at which you are most comfortable. If you find that you have to diminuendo as you go through a given exercise, then you need to either (1) start the entire exercise quieter in order to maintain the same tone quality and volume throughout OR (2) play the exercise at a faster tempo.
For lip slurs and flexibilities, try starting more slowly and speeding them up, then try the more complex flexibilities, returning to a slower tempo. For an additional challenge once you are comfortable with a given exercise at an mp volume, try playing it again at a faster tempo, increasing the volume to mf or f. Once you have reached a sense of comfort at these new dynamics, gradually slow down your tempos at these new volumes, being sure to maintain a steady and consistent tone through each exercise.
Most importantly: Have Fun! Lots of players will tell you that they do not enjoy practicing all of the time, but we continue to stretch ourselves in order to be better so that we will have more fun when we are playing with other musicians and performing for our friends, families, and audiences. When approached conscientiously, these exercises can help you to work on your intonation, tone quality, volume control, articulation accuracy, and breathing while helping you to have fun playing your instrument.
To access each warm-up in Adobe PDF format, click on the button at the head of the corresponding column. You can return to this page after visiting each exercise or sound file by clicking the back button on your browser.
This form is a great way to keep track of your practice for the week. Don't worry about speed when you first start to fill out your tempo markings (I sometimes start a new technique by changing the "1/4 note =" to "8th note =" and move up from there). Rather than worrying about making quick progress in terms of tempo, use this as a way of charting your progress over a longer period of time while working to maintain a steady sound and good control of your playing throughout your entire practice session.
Use this chart to check your intonation tendencies on any given pitch following the directions on the sheet. Do you hear certain pitches sharp or flat? Do you have a problem finding a specific position? Are you overcompensating for intonation tendencies on out of tune partials? Find out using this handout.
All tempos for the Additive Slur studies below are at mm=80, but there are 4 different play-a-longs to choose from. I like to go through each one and add a partial each time.
These challenging exercises are something that I learned from Spanish Brass Luur Metalls in a masterclass several years ago and are reprinted here with their permission. The play-a-longs are my addition. The key with these are to keep making the effort to reach all of the lowest notes. If you don't hit a particular pitch on the descent, you may have loosened yourself up enough to reach it on the way back up...
All exercises and .mp3s ©2004 Joshua Hauser.
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